Website Accessibility


By Matt Komac, Property & Liability Claim Adjuster

Is your District’s website ADA compliant?  Recently some Montana schools have been targeted with complaints through the Office of Civil Rights alleging that their websites are not ADA compliant.  Because resolving these complaints is often time intensive and costly, we are providing this information in hopes that it will help your District avoid the hassle of dealing with such ADA-related complaints. 

Working closely with Addis Enterprises – a creative group with accessibility expertise – a Michigan School Pool co-developed the following website and list of web-content best practices based upon recommendations provided by the Office of Civil Rights.   

Web accessibility refers to the practice of creating online resources that everyone can use.  Accessibility considerations are especially important for people with disabilities such as visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological. 


  • Use simple colors and when possible avoid colors that are too bright or washed out;
  • Be consistent in page layouts, using headers to create clear hierarchical structure within large blocks of content;
  • Arrange content and images in groups, keeping in mind the user’s tendency to reduce complex images into more simple shapes – for example, you may wish to group an image, title, and excerpt together in the design.


  • Overlay text on photos and avoid embedding text in photos;
  • Provide subtitles and transcripts as an alternative and complement to media;
  • Use alternative formats of media, such as an audio-descriptive track;
  • When uploading photos to the site, complete the “alternative text” field to describe the photo;
  • Ensure your website works fully on a keyboard (not only a mouse), and provide mechanisms for keyboard and voice-only use;
  • Allow users to request an ASL interpreter or provide sign language alternatives to media;
  • Ensure links and titles are descriptive. 


  • Place layout in a natural reading order (when text is in English, it should, for example, always align left);
  • Write content clearly and simply, reducing the text to short sentences and bullet points;
  • Do not use figures of speech or idioms;
  • Vary font sizes based on a hierarchy of importance within a body of text – contrast values are separated by what is required for large-versus-normal text:
  • Large text: 18 points (24px) regular weight, 14 points (18.75px) bold
  • Normal text: anything less than 14 points – size usually depends on the user’s font size in the browser;
  • Avoid using bold, underlining, and uppercase formatting;
  • Place important information on the site and not in downloads (there are different guidelines to make PDFs, Word Documents and slideshows accessible);
  • If possible, and if permissible in terms of brand standards, allow users to change the contrast of text on backgrounds; users may elect, for instance, to change a black page with white text to a white page with black text;
  • Use “alt text” – a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML document – to tell users the contents of an image (the alt text appears in a blank box in place of the image); fill out the alternative text as transcripts for videos, image descriptions, or descriptive links and titles.


  • Do not only rely on color to express meaning and convey information; for example, if fields are required to be completed, display an error message with a proposed solution – also, do not only highlight fields in red;
  • Make call-to-action buttons descriptive of the proposed action;
  • So that clicking is not dependent upon precision, avoid using “click here” buttons; instead, use larger buttons, padding, and margins to create larger target areas for text and buttons;
  • Avoid using short account-inactivity timeouts; that way, if an authenticated session expires, the user can continue the activity without loss of data after re-authenticating;
  • Ensure form fields or searches are not dependent on accurate spelling; instead, provide suggestions, completions, and error checking.

If you have any questions or are looking for any additional resources, please contact MSGIA at 877-667-7392. Return to newsletter